Researched and written by Laura Angelica Foster: laura.angelica.foster(at)gmail.com.
Numerous websites, apps and YouTube channels provide resources for the devotional practices established by Baha’u’llah. These resources can be used for prayer, meditation and reflection, and for reading, listening to, chanting, singing, and studying the words of Baha’u’llah. Baha’u’llah wrote in Arabic and Persian, but these resources are available in English and, often, in other languages as well.
The Baha’i International Community (BIC) website (bahai.org) provides free access to many of the major works of Baha’u’llah, in English and other languages, in multiple formats. In addition, many personal websites and apps offer a huge range of devotional resources for free, which include works of Baha’u’llah not found on the BIC website. YouTube also has a large collection of videos in which Baha’u’llah’s writings are recited and sung.
A variety of composers and musicians have set Baha’u’llah’s writings to music. A short write-up about each artist is found below.
Baha’i Reference Library - website by the Baha’i International Community
The Baha’i Reference Library contains writings, prayers, compilations and other texts published by the BIC. The material on this website can be read online or downloaded in PDF, DOCX, DOCX† and HTML formats. The main feature of the website is a section titled “Authoritative Writings and Guidance”, which contains translations approved by the Universal House of Justice. Beneath this section is a link titled “Other Baha’i Literature”, where viewers can read or download commentaries and historical periodicals. Click on the link “Help and Information” if you need help with downloading, navigating, searching or referencing the library.
The library contains a search box in the top right corner. The search box enables you to type in keywords or phrases. Use quotation marks around phrases. You can search the whole library or specific authors or publications.
If you need to reference a specific passage, first highlight it with your mouse, or if you're using a touchscreen, hold and drag your finger over the text and then let go. After highlighting the passage, a button labelled “Copy With Reference” should appear. Click on the button to copy the passage and its URL to your clipboard. Alternatively, you can click on a paragraph number and select to copy the link.
Baha’i Library Online - website by Jonah Winters
The Baha’i Library Online is a personal website created by Jonah Winters and a team of contributors and volunteers. The contents of the website are grouped into four categories: primary sources, secondary sources, resources and multimedia. The category of primary sources begins with a section titled “The Baha'i Writings”, which contains the BIC translations. The primary sources also include documents from Baha’i institutions, historical documents and pilgrims’ notes, which are memoirs of individuals’ meetings with Baha’u’llah and his son ‘Abdu’l-Baha. Click on the link “Provisional translations” to read personal translations by various contributors. The next category, secondary sources, includes articles, papers, essays, biographies, books, reviews, letters, poems and dissertations. The resources category contains introductory materials, study guides, research notes, chronologies, bibliographies, statistics and archives. The fourth category, titled multimedia, contains a forum, further introductory materials, presentations in Powerpoint and PDF formats, audio lectures, video talks, maps, visual materials and fiction.
The website contains heaps of materials, but it has excellent search functions in the navigation bar at the top of the page. Through the search functions, website visitors can search by author, title or date, or browse by journal or book series. The navigation bar also features a section called “Chronology”, which marks important events in Baha’i history up to the present day. The “Site map” link, situated in the top right corner, displays all the subcategories in alphabetical order and enables website visitors to browse new items, popular items and content in other languages.
Baha’i Bookstore - website by the US Baha’i Publishing Trust and Distribution Service
Baha’i Bookstore sells books online and ships them anywhere in the world from the USA. The product categories are placed in a column on the left-hand side of the website. A search box and a link to advanced search are in the top right corner. At the top of the page, you can see a row of grey buttons labelled “Home”, “Music Store”, “eBooks for Sale”, “Free eBooks”, “Free AudioBooks”, “Free Persian and Arabic Downloads” and “Podcasts”.
If you click on “eBooks for Sale”, you will see that the Baha’i Bookstore has nearly a hundred eBooks for sale in .mobi and .epub formats in English. The selection consists of BIC translations and other Baha’i literature. The “Free eBooks” section has a smaller selection of books, but it offers many downloads in other languages too. In the “Free Audio Books” section, you can download free audiobooks of BIC translations in .mp3 format. All the audiobooks are in English.
Baha’i eBooks Publications is a personal initiative that makes books available on portable devices, such as smartphones and e-readers, at no cost. The books can be downloaded in .epub and .mobi (Kindle) formats. The website offers more than a hundred books in English and several in other languages. The collection includes the BIC translations as well as many books by various authors on Baha’i-related subjects. These are mainly introductory works and historical narratives.
Windflower Translations - website by Alison Elizabeth Marshall
The Windflower Translations website is a personal initiative that provides English translations of Baha’u’llah’s writings by various translators. The translations have introductions, which are written mainly by Alison Elizabeth Marshall. Most of the translations are mystical tablets and poems that are not widely known. The “Translations here” tab takes the user to the translations and introductions on the website. The “Translations elsewhere” tab takes the user to a set of tables that link to translations on other websites. The site is connected to the Windflower Readings YouTube channel.
Windflower Readings - YouTube channel by Alison, Laura and friends
Windflower Readings is a YouTube channel that features readings of Baha’u’llah’s writings mostly from the Windflower Translations website. Most readings are by Alison Elizabeth Marshall, but a few are by her friend Mark Choveaux (deceased), to whom Alison’s forthcoming book Paradise of Presence is dedicated. The music that accompanies the readings is composed and performed by Laura Angelica Foster and Daniel Lehtovirta.
The channel also contains playlists curated for devotional purposes. The playlists consist of readings and songs from various YouTube channels. Alison’s personal YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUa6-Ju9RCKQKIgmYvwdf6A) also has many similar playlists.
Shahram Sabet - YouTube channel by Shahram Sabet (BlueStar Productions)
Shahram Sabet publishes devotional readings on YouTube. Most of the readings are short prayers, but some longer tablets are also included. Some of the older videos are devotional songs in English, Persian and Arabic. There are also videos where devotional writings are in the form of text accompanied by meditative music and beautiful images. You can click on the “Playlists” section to see the videos grouped by category.
The Utterance Project - YouTube channel by Adib Masumian and Violetta Zein
The Utterance Project enables English-speaking people to hear what Baha’u’llah’s writings sound like in the original languages. The videos feature high-quality readings in Arabic and Persian with English subtitles and phonetic transliteration. The writings are read by Adib Masumian twice: first slowly and then once more at an ordinary pace. Readings from the writings of the Bab and ‘Abdu’l-Baha are also included. The sleek video design is by Violetta Zein. The Utterance Project has a related YouTube channel, World Languages, in which subtitles are provided in several other languages.
Prayers of Baha’u’llah, the Bab, and ‘Abdu’l-Baha - online collections by the Baha’i International Community
Prayers of Baha’u’llah, the Bab and ‘Abdu’l-Baha is a section located within the Baha’i Reference Library. The section consists of three prayer collections, which can be read online and downloaded in PDF, DOCX, DOCX† and HTML formats. The first collection, titled Prayers and Meditations by Baha'u'llah, contains 184 prayers. The prayers are numbered with Roman numerals but not categorised. The second collection, Baha’i Prayers: A Selection of Prayers Revealed by Baha’u’llah, the Bab, and ‘Abdu’l-Baha, begins with an index in which the prayers are sorted into categories and subcategories. For example, morning prayers are a subcategory within the category of general prayers. The third collection, titled Baha’i Prayers and Tablets for Children, contains prayers written by Baha’u’llah and ‘Abdu’l-Baha for children. The section also contains additional prayers written by Baha’u’llah and ‘Abdu’l-Baha.
Baha’i Prayers and Writings - website and app by Sand Apps Inc.
The Baha’i Prayers and Writings website and app provides access to an abundance of prayers and to all BIC translations. These are available in English and numerous other languages. The prayers are grouped into categories such as Aid and Assistance, Prayers for the Departed, and Forgiveness. Many of the prayers and writings have links to YouTube videos in which they are recited and set to music.
The app has a Tools menu, which gives users options to read BIC news, make notes, and view a calendar with dates for feasts and holy days. The menu also has options for finding the direction of the qibla and counting the Greatest Name 95 times. For more on these, see below.
Baha’i Prayers - website and app by Justin Sina Tabrizi
The Baha’i Prayers website and app is another resource that contains prayers, sorted by category, in English and several other languages. It also contains the book Hidden Words. The app is smaller than the one by Sand Apps Inc. and can be downloaded on some older devices.
One Ocean - app for iPhones and iPads by Mary-Cait Hunter
The One Ocean app is available on the Apple App Store for iPhones and iPads. It provides the user with local access to categorised prayers and the BIC translations. Users can opt in to receive daily readings. One standout feature of this app is its search facility. Users can choose to search the writings of Baha’u’llah or Abdu’l-Baha or the Bab. The app is very reliable at throwing up all possible quotations based on the search words provided, and links the quotation to the publication it appears in. These quotations can be copied and shared, with an automatic reference.
Baha’i Prayers - website by Michael Micheletti
The Baha’i Prayers website consists of categorised prayers in English and links to devotional resources in other languages.
Supplications by Baha’u’llah - online collection by Joshua Hall
Supplications by Baha’u’llah is a collection of 200 prayers translated by Joshua Hall. The collection is available as a PDF, and the link is found at the end of Joshua’s introduction at the link above. The file can be downloaded and printed, or converted to .mobi and loaded onto a Kindle. If the file is converted, the lay-up does suffer a bit, but the text is still very readable. The collection contains an index in which the prayers have been sorted by category and target audience. This collection is not available from any other source.
Baha’i House of Worship for North America - videos of devotional sessions
From mid-2020 to mid-2021, the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois, was closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. During this time, House of Worship staff hosted a daily virtual prayer session on Zoom, which was live-streamed on Facebook. Archived videos of these sessions can be accessed at https://www.facebook.com/BahaiTempleNorthAmerica/. Each session begins with a prepared set of readings, after which participants from all over the world read prayers and perform devotional songs. The sessions last for one hour.
The qibla is the direction of the shrine of Baha’u’llah. The shrine is located 28 kilometres north of the city of Haifa, Israel, and houses Baha’u’llah’s remains. Baha’u’llah asks his followers to face the qibla when they say obligatory prayers. The following resources indicate the direction of the qibla from wherever a person is located. (Note that the word “qibla” is an Arabic word and has a variety of English spellings.)
Baha’i Qiblih Locator Android app by Nabil Stendardo
The Baha’i Qiblih Locator app for Android devices uses GPS to indicate the direction of the shrine of Baha’u’llah.
Qiblih app for iPhones and iPads by Eric Da Cunha
The Qiblih app can be downloaded on iPhones and iPads and used to determine the direction of the shrine of Baha’u’llah.
Baha’i Prayers and Writings - app by Sand Apps Inc.
An option on the Tools menu of this app indicates the direction of the shrine of Baha’u’llah. (iPhones and iPads)
Qiblih website by the Baha’i International Community
The Qiblih website shows the direction of the shrine of Baha’u’llah on a map.
Baha’u’llah asks his followers to say the Greatest Name 95 times each day. The Greatest Name is Allah’u’Abha, which in English means God is All-Glorious. The following apps have options that enable users to count to 95 as they recite.
NinetyFive - Android app by Sina Tabrizi
The NinetyFive app for Android devices enables a person to count to 95 while repeating the Greatest Name. After receiving 95 taps, the app buzzes or plays a sound.
Baha’i Prayers and Writings - app by Sand Apps Inc.
An option on the Tools menu of this app enables users to count each Allah’u’Abha by tapping lightly on the screen of the device. At 95 taps, the app will make a sound or buzz. (iPhones and iPads)
An unknown person has put the Greatest Name into a song with a catchy tune, making it easy to learn. The song repeats the phrase Allah’u’Abha 95 times.
The Baha’i Music Store website sells music in .mp3 format. You can go there and listen to samples for free. The navigation bar at the top of the home page enables you to browse new music or search for artists. The music on the website is divided into two categories: “Music for Devotions” and “Music Inspired by Faith”. If you click on one of the categories, you will see a left-hand column with links to music, audiobooks and videos. The left-hand column also enables you to browse artists, authors and genres.
Note that one of the videos sold on the website is a groundbreaking documentary called The Gate: Dawn of the Baha’i Faith, which is a dramatised re-enactment of the story of the Bab combined with interviews of historians and scholars. The documentary can be purchased as an instant download or a Blu-ray disc. It is also available on YouTube.
Baha’i Blog - website and YouTube channel by Half Light Media
The Baha’i Blog website posts Baha’i-related material, such as news, resources and music, on a weekly basis. You can sign up for a newsletter in the left-hand column by submitting your email address and clicking the green button “Join”. The blue navigation bar at the top of the page features links to articles, videos, audio, images, calendar, quizzes and a directory. The green bar at the top right shows links to the Baha’i Blog Facebook page, YouTube channel, Twitter profile, Instagram and other social media websites. You can find devotional music videos by clicking on the “Videos” section of the website, then select the category “Music” in the left-hand column (direct URL: https://www.bahaiblog.net/video-category/music-videos/).
The Baha’i Blog music videos are also published on the Baha’i Blog YouTube channel. To find these, click on the “Playlists” section, then choose a playlist called “Baha’i Blog Studio Sessions” (direct URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iY9dP9kI-VQ&list=PLePDtgwcyKAScvchcLzY-XZTmP2tdN-EY). The music videos in this playlist are born of an ongoing initiative where Baha’i musicians from all over the world are invited to a studio to record devotional music, which is then published on the Baha’i Blog website and YouTube channel. The playlist contains hundreds of music videos.
Besides music videos, the YouTube channel also contains podcasts, talks and interviews.
The Baha’i-Inspired Music Listeners Club - Facebook group
The Baha’i-Inspired Music Listeners Club is a public Facebook group with 8000+ members. Devotional music of all genres is shared in the group by its members. Some of the members are Baha’i musicians, who share their latest music in the group. The group is a good place to learn about the latest releases in Baha’i music.
Elika Mahony - composer, singer and pianist
Elika Mahony began setting the Baha’i writings to music more than 20 years ago. She composes songs and instrumental music. She has published several studio albums, EPs and singles. She has discovered the ability to nourish and soothe souls through her music, which combines different genres and styles, such as classical music, World music, Latin, New Age, Middle Eastern, pop and rock.
One of Elika’s most popular albums is an instrumental piano album titled Glimmerings (2011), which takes the listener on a journey of ethereal beauty and enchanting melodies. Among her recent compositions is A Radiant Heart, an outstanding rendition of Baha’u’llah’s first Arabic hidden word. The song, which is from the album The Ancient Beauty (2019), is a duet between Elika and her daughter Amelia. whose exquisite vocal harmonies are accompanied by piano and cello. In 2021 she released a catchy global singalong, Waves of One Sea, which features 240 participants from 44 countries and regions. The verses of the singalong are sung in six languages: English, Swahili, Spanish, Chinese, Italian and French.
Baha’i Music Store: https://bahaimusicstore.com/elika-mahony
Luke Slott - composer, singer and instrumentalist
Luke Slott sets the Baha’i writings to music and writes songs that bear on the teachings and history of the Baha’i Faith. He plays the guitar, piano and trumpet and is an accomplished singer. During his 10+ years of writing and recording, he has released two full-length albums for solo piano, two full-length albums of songs, a live album and several EPs and singles.
Luke’s early works are in an acoustic style. More recently, he has collaborated with a variety of musicians and developed a rich, warm and complex sound, produced from a blend of vocal harmonies and interesting instrumentation. This new sound is particularly apparent in his latest full-length album Gate of Heaven (2019). The album culminates in Luke’s 17-minute composition for Baha’u’llah’s Tablet of Ahmad, a text that takes about seven minutes to read aloud. Luke has broken new ground in the art of putting text to music, creating a song that features a haunting melody, beautiful harmonies and dynamic instrumental colour. Another of Luke’s standout works is his 12-minute composition for Baha’u’llah’s long poem Tablet of the Wondrous Maiden (2019). The official music video, which features Luke performing this song, is available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnm_S9XXY5k.
Baha’i Music Store: https://bahaimusicstore.com/luke-slott
Shadi Toloui-Wallace - composer and singer
Shadi Toloui-Wallace’s music is a mixture of acoustic, spiritual, indie and folk genres, blending Western and Eastern styles in soul-stirring melodies. She has recorded four studio albums and two singles. In her latest album, Radiant Heart (2019), she collaborates with her mother, Shidan Toloui-Wallace.
Baha’i Music Store: https://bahaimusicstore.com/shadi-toloui-wallace
Ali Youssefi - composer, singer and instrumentalist
Ali Youssefi sets the Baha’i writings to music in a rich acoustic style with the aim of uplifting and uniting people. He has studied classical guitar and pursued a degree in music therapy. He has released two albums: One Step Away (2007) and Daystar (2019). He has also released many singles, among them a catchy, upbeat song with an official YouTube video, Unite (2015). One of his recent video singles, One Tree (2020), is a collaborative song featuring 88 participants from 25 countries.
Baha’i Music Store: https://bahaimusicstore.com/ali-youssefi
Munirih Sparrow - singer-songwriter
Munirih Sparrow performs acoustic folk music that sounds warm, joyous, soulful and intimate. She has recorded two studio albums: Morning to Midnight (2011) and Nightsong (2012). Her latest release is a single titled In Winter (2021), in which she sings about events following a stormy winter, which is superseded by a divine springtime.
Baha’i Music Store: https://bahaimusicstore.com/munirih-sparrow
Grant Hindin Miller - singer-songwriter
Grant Hindin Miller is a beloved singer and guitarist, who has composed music for decades. He has recorded seven studio albums and a compilation album titled The True Morn (2019), which gathers together his previously published songs about the Bab. His latest album, The Sign of Love (2021), is a response to the huge demand by his fans for new music. The new album carries his characteristic sound featuring acoustic guitar, vocal harmonies and cello, violin and keyboard accompaniments. In addition to his own recordings, he has performed two songs on Baha’i Blog Studio Sessions: Humble Thyself and O Son of Dust. His official YouTube channel has currently only one video, a memorable acoustic song called A White Bird, All of his music is available on an auto-generated YouTube channel.
Baha’i Music Store: https://bahaimusicstore.com/grant-hindin-miller
YouTube official: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCL7XAvfe-IIyCLnGR3YliDQ
YouTube auto-generated: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC77WjnHQxc2jcdh_1maXd0Q
Sonbol Taefi - vocalist and composer
Sonbol Taefi sings in Persian and English. She combines traditional Persian music with modern pop and classical arrangements. In one of her popular albums, Along the Tigris (2008), she sets Baha’u’llah’s Hidden Words to orchestral music. The songs on the album are accompanied by piano and a double string quartet. The album is mostly sung but also features spoken passages in Persian and English. Her latest album, Coral and Pearls (2020), is sung in Persian, Arabic, English and Spanish. In addition to her albums, Sonbol is known for collaborating with Grant Hindin Miller, Elika Mahony and Luke Slott in a brilliantly produced music video called The Photograph. The video is a tribute to Baha’u’llah’s eldest son, ‘Abdu’l-Baha.
Baha’i Music Store: https://bahaimusicstore.com/sonbol-taefi
Arlen Yanch - composer and pianist
Arlen Yanch composes mainly instrumental music with haunting piano melodies. His debut album, Facing East (2015), is inspired by the Holy Land. Among the tracks on the album is an instrumental piano recording called Shoreless Sea, which is available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tmnsyupk-2c. He has also released several singles, among them a standout song titled God is Sufficient unto Me (2016), which features vocals by Samar Rushdy. The song is available as a music video on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDuIAwaGqnQ.
Bonnie Lisbeth - singer-songwriter
Bonnie Lisbeth is a singer and songwriter with an acoustic folk style. Her devotional albums are titled Wither Shall I Turn (2016) and By This Fire (2021). She has also recorded an EP, Lost at Sea (2018)
James Mohajer - singer-songwriter
James Mohajer is a singer, songwriter, guitarist, pianist and percussionist, who creates devotional music with an acoustic sound. He has published an album called Ascend (2019) and a single, Hidden & Manifest (2020).
Siria - singer-songwriter
Siria’s devotional music sounds reverent, affecting and beautiful. Her joyful and confident vocals evoke the legends Billie Holiday, Sara Vaughn and Carole King, as well as contemporary singers such as Alicia Keys, Imogen Heap and Sara Bareilles. She opens up about the making of her debut album, Turn My Steps (2020), in a Baha’i Blog interview at https://www.bahaiblog.net/2021/03/turn-my-steps-an-album-by-siria/. She says the process was characterised by an unexpected flow of ideas and the finding of a talented producer in a way that felt divinely guided. In addition to her debut album, Siria has released two singles: So Far from You (2020) and One Look (2021).
Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/siria/1531412393
Max Weigert - singer-songwriter
Singer and songwriter Max Weigert has put together a joyful acoustic devotional album, “Let your vision be world-embracing” (2017). He has also released children’s music: a mini-album titled So Much to See (2017) and a full-length album titled Cozy Corner (2019).
MJ Cyr - singer-songwriter
MJ Cyr writes music, sings and accompanies herself on the guitar and keys. Her genres include electronic, pop and folk. She has recorded a devotional album, Canopy (2012), and a devotional EP, If We Could Only Catch a Glimpse (2014). Her music video, Innocent in Heart, begins with a simple beat and then builds into an addictive, transcendent dream pop song. She also records non-devotional music. She discusses her musical background and spirituality in an interview on the Baha’i Blog website at https://www.bahaiblog.net/2012/12/innocent-in-heart-an-interview-with-mj-cyr-2/.
Baha’i Music Store: https://bahaimusicstore.com/mj-cyr
Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/mj-cyr/324862532
Devon Gundry - rock musician
Singer and songwriter Devon Gundry is known for his devotional rock music. His first release is an acoustic EP titled At the Top of My Lungs (2005). His subsequent album, Refrenergy (2014), takes his music to another level with electric guitars, intricate rock music arrangements and additional performances by several musicians. A music video of his song Armed is available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxa70NF_fPs.
Baha’i Music Store: https://bahaimusicstore.com/devon-gundry
Nabil and Karim - hip-hop and pop duo
Nabil and Karim are making a positive impact on the world through their devotional hip-hop and pop songs. They have put together two albums as a duo: Nabil & Karim (2009) and Nabil & Karim Vol. II (2011). More recently, they have collaborated with a musician called Anise K. on an outstanding hip hop album called Thief in the Night (2019).
Walter Heath - soul musician
If you enjoy soul music, you will love Walter Heath’s recordings. He grew up in a singing, church-going family, sang in church choirs, became a Baha’i and mastered the guitar. He has recorded an album titled All Things Are of God (2004) with his wife, children and grandchildren, combining soul, blues, folk and pop music. His soul music albums Praise His Name (2009) and Prayers and Passages (2010) are available on streaming services. His YouTube channel contains numerous songs that do not appear on his albums. In addition to his own YouTube videos, you can see a video of him performing his song O Children of Men on Baha’i Blog Studio Sessions at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMCqbLzCndk.
Baha’i Music Store: https://bahaimusicstore.com/walter-heath
Eric Dozier - blues musician
Eric Dozier is an acclaimed blues musician and anti-racism educator, who streams interfaith devotional music, sing-alongs and spiritual talks on his YouTube channel. He has performed his song Unity Prayer on Baha’i Blog Studio Sessions at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzoJHax-FR0. The Baha’iTeachings.org YouTube channel has published an interview of him discussing how he uses the power of music to heal racism. You can watch the interview at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yV3I5Bcqfc8.
The Badasht Project - various artists
The Badasht Project is a multi-genre group of first-rate musicians spearheaded by Eric Dozier and JB Eckl. The group has brought out three albums: Vol. I: While the City Sleeps (2007), Vol. II: Raise Me Up (2012) and Vol. III: Visionaries (2013). The first two albums incorporate soul, folk and rock genres. The third album features a number of young collaborators, covering even more genres from electronica to hip-hop and bluegrass.
Baha’i Music Store: https://bahaimusicstore.com/badasht
Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/badasht/1294421067
Smith & Dragoman - world music
Smith & Dragoman is a talented group that performs soul-stirring devotional music. The core members of the group are Brett Smith, Michael Dragoman and Emily Dragoman. Their recordings and live performances are supported by several other first-rate musicians. The band has released three studio albums: Open the Gates (2004), Under the Lote-Tree (2007) and The Mystery (2012). Listen to the first three singles of their upcoming fourth album, Into the Fire, at https://www.intothefire.smithanddragoman.com/.
Baha’i Music Store: https://bahaimusicstore.com/smith-and-dragoman
The Baha’i calendar, originally called the Badi‘ calendar, was created by the Bab and adopted by Baha’u’llah. The calendar consists of 19 months, each with 19 days, and 4 or 5 intercalary days, which precede the last month of the year. The new year falls on the March equinox (20-21 March). The years are annotated with the abbreviation B.E., which stands for Baha’i Era. Year one B.E. dates from the Gregorian year 1844 when the Bab declared his prophethood. In the Gregorian year 2021, the March equinox launches the year 178 B.E.
Baha’i communities hold monthly gatherings every 19 days. The gatherings are called Nineteen Day Feasts, or just ‘feasts’. Baha’u’llah tells his followers to gather together for a feast once per month, but he uses the term “feast” in a spiritual sense, not in its usual sense of a large meal. Food or snacks are typically offered at feasts, but Baha’u’llah says that it suffices to serve only water. As a rule, the feasts are held on the first day of each 19-day month. Since the 20th century, Baha’is have developed a practice of dividing the feasts into three sections: devotions, consultation and socialising.
In addition to the feasts, the Baha’i calendar is punctuated by several anniversaries, which are commemorated as holy days. Most prayers books, websites and apps have a category titled “Occasional Prayers”, which contains prayers that are recited on holy days. Prayers and readings used for commemorating holy days are also published in the book Days of Remembrance, which is available from the Baha’i Reference Library and other websites and apps that carry the BIC translations.
The YouTube video Introduction to the Badi‘ Calendar is a nine-minute narrated slideshow that introduces the Baha’i calendar, which the narrator calls by its original name, the Badi‘ calendar. The narrator translates the Arabic names of the months and days into English and explains how days, months and years are grouped together in the calendar. At the end of the video, she uses visualisations to explain the calendar.
You can use the Badi‘ Calendar Calculator website to find corresponding dates and times between Gregorian and Baha’i calendars. The calculator also shows the dates of holy days. The website has a link to an app, which can be downloaded on Android and iOs (Apple) devices. You can also find out the date of an upcoming holy day by typing the name of the holy day into Google.
Naw-Ruz, observed on the 20th or 21st of March, is a holy day that launches the new year in the Baha’i calendar. Baha’u’llah has written several Naw-Ruz prayers, which can be found in prayer books, apps and websites.
Ridvan is a twelve-day festival beginning on the 20th or 21st of April, depending on the date on which the March equinox falls. The festival commemorates Baha’u’llah’s twelve-day stay in the garden of Ridvan (Baghdad, Iraq), where he declared his prophethood to his closest followers. You can celebrate Ridvan by listening to the songs Ridvan by Smith & Dragoman and Garden of Ridvan by Dan Seals and the Baha’i World Congress chorus.
Declaration of the Bab
The Declaration of the Bab is a holy day observed on the 23rd or 24th of May, depending on the date of the March equinox. The holy day marks the anniversary of the night in which the Bab announced his prophethood to a man called Mulla Husayn, who became his first follower. You can listen to Alison Elizabeth Marshall’s reading of Baha’u’llah’s Tablet of the Sacred Night, which Baha’u’llah wrote to commemorate the occasion.
Ascension of Baha’u’llah
The Ascension of Baha’u’llah, which is a holy day marking the anniversary of Baha’u’llah’s passing, is commemorated on the 28th or 29th of May. When you think about Baha’u’llah on this day, you can listen to the poignant song Ascension of Baha’u’llah by Smith & Dragoman.
Martyrdom of the Bab
The Martyrdom of the Bab is a holy day commemorated on the 9th or 10th of July, on the anniversary of the execution of the Bab. Songs written for this holy day include More Than a Man by Smith & Dragoman and Rivers of Light by Grant Hindin Miller.
Twin Holy Birthdays
The festival of the Twin Holy Birthdays refers to the anniversaries of the births of the Bab and Baha’u’llah, which are celebrated on consecutive days in October or November. The festival takes place on the first and second day following the appearance of the eighth new moon after Naw-Ruz.
Day of the Covenant
The Day of the Covenant is observed on the 25th or 26th of November, depending on the date of the March equinox. This is when followers of Baha’u’llah commemorate the appointment of Baha’u’llah’s eldest son ‘Abdu’l-Baha as Baha’u’llah’s successor.
Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Baha
The Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Baha is commemorated on the 27th or 28th of November. As a way of acknowledging his life, you can listen to the songs Hold Thou My Hand by Elika Mahony and ‘Abdu’l-Baha by Grant Hindin Miller.
The four or five intercalary days at the end of February constitute a festival called Ayyam-i-Ha, which means Days of Ha. The Arabic letter hā symbolises the transcendence of God. The festival can be observed by meditating on this theme. Ayyam-i-Ha is also a period of fellowship, gift-giving and charity. The following prayer by Baha’u’llah is recited on the intercalary days: https://www.bahaiprayers.org/intercalary.htm.
Baha’u’llah asks his followers to fast during a nineteen-day period after the intercalary days, in the month preceding Naw-Ruz. The fast is carried out by abstaining from food and drink between sunrise and sunset. Baha’u’llah has exempted children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, menstruating women, the elderly and the sick from the fast. People who are travelling or engaged in hard labour are likewise exempt. The idea of fasting also has a spiritual meaning, which involves self-restraint. Baha’u’llah has written many prayers that can be recited during the month of fasting. They are available in prayer books, apps and websites.